Wrapping up a week of spin-offs, we come to one other little-known beauty. Aimed at a younger audience than Doctor Who Confidential, we had Totally Doctor Who. Now, conceptually it was the same as Confidential but the big lure here was that it involved the kids. I am a firm believer that to engage a person in learning, you get them involved in what they are learning about. My best classes were always the hands-on ones and this would function the same way. And what better way to help build new fans for the future?! How amazing for those children to be able to say “I was on Totally Doctor Who learning how to make sound effects for a space ship!” Or learning to walk like a Cyberman. Or interviewing the Doctor… or competing in a game show… oh, the list went on. In short, it was Doctor Who Confidential in a way that worked for the children.
Sadly, like Confidential, it didn’t last long enough. Totally went on for a meager two seasons, coming in with a depressing 25 episodes. But during that time, trivia games were a big deal on the show, testing kids on what they knew about Doctor Who in “Who-ru”; horribly titled, but an amalgam of Doctor Who Guru… (I don’t make it up!) This later morphed. Now two teams were formed: Team Time Lord and Team TARDIS. The kids on each team would watch a member of the production crew explain how things were done in the actual making of the episode. They would then be challenged to work together to do something similar. The winning team would get priceless Doctor Who item. (I’d be lying if I said that I remembered what the final victory was; I did have to look it up even though I had watched all the episodes when they aired! C’mon, it was a decade ago!) The winners got to meet David Tennant and received a piece of artwork of themselves with the Doctor and Martha. Truly unique.
The second season also featured a “companion academy” where kids would compete through the episodes and the end result would select a winner that would go on to see behind-the-scenes filming of series 3. Possibly the neatest idea came about during the second season. During each episode, a small segment of a larger animated story would be shown called The Infinite Quest. This might sound like a video game with matching gemstones, but it was actually a reasonably good animation starring David Tennant and Freema Agyeman up against the pirate baddie, Baltazar, played by Anthony Head. You undoubtedly recall him as the Krillitane leader and headmaster in School Reunion. As animation goes, it was on par with nearly any other cartoon on TV at the time. What made Totally Doctor Who’s approach interesting is that it did the episodes in three and half minute installments, creating mini-cliffhangers ever 210 seconds. Was it great? No, but it was fun and unique, and when you’re dealing with something that is that short, the experiment alone is worth the time. If you didn’t like it, you were only sitting in on it for 3.5 minutes. If you did like it, when it was over, you’d want to watch the whole thing to see how good it was. 13 episodes at 3.5 minutes is no substantial loss in time! Had Totally gone on past two seasons, I would have loved to see how many of these they could have done, and I suspect the quality would have increased per season. If nothing more, it was an interesting way to keep viewers tuning in week after week.
While this may not have been as engaging to the adults, it was a clever idea to interest the younger audience and still keep it interesting enough for the parents. That’s why I think it does warrant a quick mention here on the Junkyard. Unfortunately, what makes this one more tragic even that Confidential is that there is no way to see any of these. Confidential may exist in reduced format on the DVD releases, but Totally does not. Why do the powers-the-be think this wouldn’t sell? Maybe it’s just not worth the effort. So, dear readers, if it’s something you want to see, hopefully you know someone who recorded them because otherwise, like the lost episodes of Doctor Who, they may be lost somewhere in the vortex forever… ML